The Boxer Shorts Rebellion

The New Republic has a lengthy article about the rise of nationalistic sentiment online. It starts with a description of last year’s Chinabounder scandal, then goes on to discuss the new generation of fenqing, or “angry youth” (憤青):

You’d think that the younger, Internet savvy generation of Chinese twenty- and thirtysomethings would be the ones guiding China into better relations with the West. Instead, they seem to have glanced toward the rest of the world and turned back, appalled. Groups like the Patriots Alliance Web and the Greater China Anti-Japanese Alliance claim tens of thousands of members who routinely log into chat rooms to discuss Japanese war reparations, U.S. support for Taiwan, and Chinese territorial claims, along with a host of more personal grievances. Western observers tend to assume that such nationalism is fueled by a one-party state eager to gloss over its mistakes. But, while the government might look the other way during xenophobic manhunts, fenqing tend to be professionals in major cities like Shanghai and Beijing–exactly the people who were supposedly going to lead China toward greater openness, using the allegedly democratizing tool of the Internet. Nationalism is growing even as– some would say because–China is opening up.

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